Appeal from the 333rd District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2015-69353
consists of Justices Keyes, Higley, and Landau.
V. Keyes Justice
election contest, contestants/appellants Phillip Paul Bryant
and James Scarborough challenge a ballot measure concerning
term limits for City of Houston elective offices. Following
the November 3, 2015 election in which Houston voters
approved a measure to amend the City Charter's term
limits provisions, Bryant filed this election contest, and
Scarborough intervened. Bryant, Scarborough, and
contestees/appellees, the City of Houston and former mayor
Annise D. Parker (collectively "the City"), filed
cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied
the motions of Bryant and Scarborough and granted the
City's motion, dismissing all claims.
issues, both Bryant and Scarborough argue that the trial
court erred in granting the City's motion for summary
judgment and in denying their own motions for summary
judgment because the ballot language "affirmatively
misrepresented" and "omitted" the "true
character, purpose, and chief feature of the Charter
months leading up to the November 3, 2015 election, the City
sought to amend Article V of the Houston City Charter,
governing the number of terms and length of each term for
City elective office. The proposed Charter amendment stated,
in relevant part:
(a) For the purposes of term limits, City elective offices
are Mayor, City Controller, and City Council Member (either
At-Large or District). The term of office for a City elective
office shall be four years. Except as otherwise provided
herein, no person shall be eligible to be elected to more
than two four-year terms in the same City elective office.
(b) For positions to be elected at the City General Election
to be held in November 2015, the eligibility of persons then
holding City elective office to seek reelection to a City
elective office shall be as follows:
1. A person serving his or her first two-year term shall be
eligible to seek two additional terms of four years'
duration in that same office. A person having then served two
additional terms of four years' duration shall not be
eligible to seek re-election to the same office.
2. A person serving his or her second two-year term shall be
eligible to seek one additional term of four years duration
in that same office. A person having then served one
additional term of four years duration shall not be eligible
to seek reelection to the same office.
3.A person serving his or her third two-year term shall not
be eligible to seek election to that same office.
the Charter amendment sought to establish four-year terms of
office for City elective offices and to set a two-term limit
for holding elective office. The proposed Charter amendment
also included specific provisions for transitioning from the
then-existing Charter terms, which had provided for two-year
terms of office and a limit of three terms in office, to the
provisions in the proposed Charter amendment.
the parties dispute that the City met the publication
requirements for notifying voters of the substance of the
proposed Charter amendment. In the November 2015 election,
this measure was submitted to voters as Proposition 2. The
ballot language for Proposition 2 read:
(Relating to Term Limits for City Elective Offices) Shall the
City Charter of the City of Houston be amended to reduce the
number of terms of elective offices to no more than two terms
in the same office and limit the length for all terms of
elective office to four ...